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Tent Sweet Tent: Upgrade Your Sleeping Accommodations

Prickly pinecones, jutting rocks and stubborn roots…Ahh, Mother Nature’s own offerings for your sleeping enjoyment—But how does one go about getting any shuteye when the ground below makes for quite the uncomfortable snooze?

Easy! Slumber soundly all vacation long with a negligible investment. Go to the nearest superstore, drugstore or trading post and pick up one of those inflatable air mats.

Sure it doubles as a raft in the water, but you will enjoy the cushioning it provides far beyond the waves it allows you to ride. And when its role is to keep you comfortably slumbering, it also keeps you out of the water if your tent should spring a leak during an unexpected thunderstorm. The water may collect on your tent’s floor, but you are elevated just enough to escape the dampness seeping into your living quarters.

The ten or twenty minutes required to inflate the air mat are well worth the hours of peaceful repose you secure for you and your tent mates. Dry, comfortable sleeping for the vacation’s duration—trust me, it will be the best ten dollars (or less!) you’ve ever spent!

How to Save Money for Your ROAD TRIP

Ask anyone. I’m sure just about everybody you know is saving up for something. Us, we want to go on a cross-country road trip this summer (which mean’s we’ll probably need AT LEAST $1,000) and I want to get a new lens for my camera to capture the memories (Tack on another $300-$400).

We’re hoping to save up enough money for our road trip so that we really can do all the things we want to do without saying, “Let’s not. That’s too expensive.” I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to utter those words even ONCE on a road trip. But considering the – all of about $161.23 (or so) that I have saved up to date, I’ll be lucky if I can even leave the state!

Starting today, we are going to do whatever we can (within reason) to save for our trip. Personally, I’m going to stash away the $10 I won on a scratch-off lottery ticket. I know, I know, but hey, at least it’s a start!

I know we are not the only people who want to take a road trip this year. I also realize that we’re surely not the only ones in this kind of a financial bind. Some people may have ridiculous mortgage payments or rent bills, years’ worth of credit card debt, extensive car repairs and oodles of other dependencies.

Overall, I’m hoping to reduce my expenses and curb my impulsive spending to set aside more money for our road trip. Here are some tips to help us all save money in 2006.

Cut fast food out of your diet. Not only will you feel healthier, but also you’ll save anywhere from $5 a month on up, depending on how often you rely on that greasy convenience!

Shop with coupons. If you can procure coupons for something you buy regularly, or even as a treat – especially when it’s on sale in the store – you can really save a lot of money each month. My mom shops for a family of six and saves anywhere from $60 to $150 a MONTH just by using coupons and shopping
especially when items she wants are on sale. Just think, that is anywhere from $720 to $1800 a YEAR!

Cook at home more, eat out less. By reducing the number of times you eat out at a restaurant, you’re not only saving on the higher prices of food, but also the amounts spent on tips, overpriced beverages and gasoline to get there.

Try brewing coffee at home at least part of the week. By saving gourmet coffee for special occasions and either Fridays or Mondays, you can really cut down your unnecessary expenses.

Drink filtered tap water instead of bottled spring water. Or, if your office has a spring water cooler, fill up a water bottle and drink from that throughout the day. Consider eliminating soda from your diet and drink more water! It’s very healthier for you.

Roof over our heads:
Wear warmer clothes instead of cranking the heat.

Take shorter showers.

Turn off lights you don’t need.

If you live by yourself in an apartment with a spare room, consider getting a roommate. This will help to reduce overhead tremendously!

Limit your shopping sprees to:
Shopping for only those items you desperately need – pantyhose, new shoes, business attire. Shop for items only when you must and save money by taking advantage of storewide sales. Just don’t go overboard!

Lifestyle Needs:
Start doing your own manicures and get your nails professionally done only for special occasions. Invest in a few bottles of nail polish, a nail file, nail polish remover and nail trimmers. You’ll save yourself a considerable amount over the course of a year.

Limit your trips to the spa. Learn how to do pedicures and facials at home, and have a girls’-night-in!

Tired of paying between $50 and $80 a month to work out at the gym? Do it the old fashioned way and run, bike and exercise on your own time. Get a group of friends together to workout with you and do exercise tapes, form a running club or play some sports!

Before running out to the movies, check the TV page for any specials or made-for-TV movies that might appeal to you. Going to the movies costs close to $20 just for two people to enjoy a single show! Why not rent a movie or set up a movie-swap with some friends or neighbors. Every weekend, meet at one friend’s house, each with a small selection of DVDs or movies, and create your own mini-movie rental system that costs you only time!

Instead of giving up things in your life, take advantage of dozens of things you can do differently. These minor modifications in your life could contribute to you saving thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Now there’s that vacation you’re too strapped to take, a new laptop, digital camera or a down payment for a new car. You can achieve a number of your financial dreams - Just make a commitment and stick with it!

Top 10 signs it’s time to take a road trip

10. Your dog didn’t just eat your homework. He also ate your cell phone, your address book, your wallet and various other things he found while you were sleeping. Thankfully, your driver’s license is still intact, except for a few bite marks here and there. Hey, if you drive really carefully, maybe you won’t have to explain the random holes on your main form of identification to the police officer!

9. What is this real-world nonsense? College didn’t prepare you for jack! Why not go on a road trip and learn some REAL life lessons?

8. You need a change. You’ve been working the same job for days, weeks, months, years. You can't stand another moment of normality. If one more bird chirps, if one more car honks, if one more stupid telemarketer calls you at home, so help them...!

7. Your friendships and hobbies all seem stale. You are unemployed, unmarried, underpaid or all of the above. Maybe your current relationship needs some new zest. Maybe you want to meet some new people in a wild and crazy way. Maybe you just can't bear to go home to your lonely apartment or your crazy parents' house one more day. At any rate, one thing is for certain. You need an adventure!

6. You can’t seem to find yourself. You don’t know who you are, what you want to do with your life or what you want to be when you grow up. Your parents are breathing down your neck to get a life and do something with it. Maybe you should just hit the roads and get lost. Seriously. We’re sure you’d eventually find yourself...and your way back.

5. Your boss sent you out of the office to run some errands in town. He let you take the company car and just as you’re finishing up, you look down and see it’s half past five. Knowing your colleagues, everyone is long-gone and halfway home for dinner. You’ve got a full tank of gas and your only limitations are rush-hour traffic and the meager hours till nine o’clock tomorrow morning…

4. You’re sick and tired of the same song and dance. And you’re not talking about life in general. You find members of the opposite sex in your general geographic area to be thoroughly undesirable for one reason or another, or find that your romance isn’t exactly going the greatest. You’re either suffocating or wilting from lack of attention. What better way to spice up your life a little bit?! And if you’re single, what a great time it is to rev up your love life. So many states, so many boys (or girls), so little time!

3. When life looks, smells and just plain IS dull, what other options do you have? Next to taking up a random hobby like underwater rugby or nude bungee jumping, a cross-country road trip is a pretty attractive idea!

2. You recently got to thinking and realized the farthest you’ve been from your house in the past month is when you’re out checking your mailbox. You know what we have to say about that? You are the absolute laziest anti-travel equivalent of a couch potato. Get off your butt, get out there and SEE THE WORLD!


Big cities are for making a name for yourself. Small towns are for settling down. Road trips are for living life everywhere in between.
What are you waiting for?!

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